The Ballerinas by Rachel Kapelke-Dale

My Rating: 4 stars

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the ARC! This book comes out today, December 7th 2021.

I love ballet stories, so I requested this as soon as I saw the title and cover. In The Ballerinas, Delphine moves between past and present to tell the story of her and two friends, Lindsay and Margaux, trying to rise the ranks at the Paris Opera Ballet. While this was labeled as a thriller, I’m not sure that’s accurate. It’s a very character driven book. It’s about how the cutthroat world of ballet has changed their lives and relationships. Fair warning, none of these characters are especially likable. They do some horrible things to each other, and they’re all incredibly flawed. But that makes them feel real, and it made me invested in them. I wanted to know how the rift in their relationship formed. I wanted to see if Delphine’s ballet would succeed and if Lindsay would be promoted.

The book also focuses on the timely issues of sexual abuse against women, particularly vulnerable young girls. This could be potentially triggering for some readers, so keep that in mind. But I do think it’s an important theme for literature to explore right now, and Kapelke-Dale handles it well for the most part. There were a few moments of dialogue with male characters that felt a little over the top to me. But the portrayal of how this abuse affects women both physically and emotionally is well done and quite realistic.

Honestly, this was going to be a five star read for me until about 90% in. I hated the ending. It came absolutely out of nowhere and was just too sensational to match the rest of the book. It was almost as if it was thrown in there to make it fit the thriller genre. But that just didn’t work since it came so late in the book. It just ultimately wasn’t satisfying for me and didn’t seem to fit with the story.

Overall, The Ballerinas is a wonderful, character driven story about the relationships between women and the darkness lurking behind their art. The ending wasn’t my cup of tea, but it was definitely worth the read!

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